You must be excited about this important milestone in your baby’s life. But before you go about planning and preparing your baby’s solid food, let’s look at some important things to keep in mind, including:
Since your baby’s immune system is still developing, they can be more susceptible to food poisoning or similar concerns. Hence, caregivers who are handling and preparing a baby’s food must follow these safety hacks when it comes to their baby’s health.
1) Remember to wash your hands
Before you make food for your baby, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. This simple step helps get rid of any germs or contaminants that might be on your hands.
2) Keep your cooking area clean
Before you start prepping or cooking, make sure your cutting boards, countertops, and utensils are all clean. You can wash them with hot, soapy water or use a special sanitizing solution made for food.
3) Pick safe, fresh ingredients
When you're making food for your baby, go for fresh, good-quality ingredients. If you can, try to get organic stuff, and look for locally sourced produce if possible (from farm to table). Avoid using ingredients that have expired or are stale. It can make babies really sick.
4) Store and handle food safely
Foods that can go bad, like meat, milk, and cooked leftovers, need to be kept at the right temperature to stop germs from growing. After you buy or cook them, put them in the fridge or freezer as soon as you can. Follow the storage rules and use them before they go bad. Fresh baby food should go in the fridge or freezer within two hours to keep it safe, because germs can start growing if it stays out longer.
5) Thoroughly clean fruits and veggies under running water
This helps get rid of pesticide residue, dirt, and germs. If any veggies have a firm or tough skin, like potatoes or carrots, you can use a brush to scrub them. Sometimes, peeling certain veggies/fruits can make them even safer for your baby.
6) Handle food safely and cook it at right temperatures
When you cook food, especially things like meat and eggs, make sure they're cooked enough to kill any bacteria or germs. Use a food thermometer if you wish, to check if it's the right temperature. Here are general guidelines for cooking temperatures:
(We will explore how to select, prepare, and cook meats, eggs, fish, veggies, and fruits in later articles in great detail, so don’t worry. Safe ways to prepare and serve these foods are also discussed.)
7) Avoid sugar, salt, and spice
When you're starting to feed your baby solid foods, it's a good idea to skip adding salt, sugar, or spices. Your baby has sensitive taste buds, so they don't need extra flavors. Let them explore and enjoy the natural taste of different foods. As they get older, you can gradually introduce mild spices.
8) Safely store and reheat baby food
When you have leftover baby food, put it in a tight container and store it in the fridge or freezer right away. Eat refrigerated leftovers within a few days and frozen ones within a few months.
When you warm up the leftover food, make sure it's really hot, at least 165°F (74°C), to kill any germs. If you freeze your homemade baby food, it can stay in the fridge for up to 48 hours or in the freezer for 3 months.
When you take frozen food out, you can let it thaw in the fridge overnight (use it the next day) or leave it out covered at room temperature for a few hours until it's defrosted. You can also gently warm it in a saucepan or microwave, but make sure it's super-hot before serving.
Always cool the food before giving it to your baby, and make sure there are no hot spots. And remember, don't heat up or freeze the food again after you've thawed it once. Throw away any extra.
You don't need to sterilize containers, bowls, spoons, or cups. You can either put them in the top rack of your dishwasher, which is the hottest part, or wash them by hand using hot, soapy water.
9) Do not use oil that’s already been used for frying; it could be rancid.
10) Since fat is unstable, it’s best to store nuts and seeds in your fridge.
11) Watch out for choking risks
When you're making food for your baby, be careful about foods that could make them choke. Don't give them small, hard, round, sticky, or slippery foods. Cut their food into age-appropriate pieces and always keep an eye on them while they eat to stop any choking.
(We will explore foods that have choking risks, how to avoid choking, and more in later articles in detail.)
12) Introduce allergenic foods slowly
When you start giving your baby new foods that are also common allergens (e.g., eggs, peanuts, fish), try them one at a time in small bits. Keep an eye on your baby for any signs like rashes, hives, trouble breathing, or tummy problems. Consult your doctor if you're worried about potential allergies.
(We will explore allergenic foods, what they are, how to introduce them, what signs to watch out for, and more in detail in later articles, so don’t worry.)
13) Homemade remedies may not always be good for babies
Traditionally, if you’ve grown up in an Indian family, you would have heard of many “grandmother’s recipes or wellness tips.” Can you think of remedies you’ve heard of to tackle common baby issues like constipation or teething discomfort?
Our experts request you to exercise caution in proceeding with these remedies. The reason is that some ingredients may not be suitable for babies or may interact with medications. Always consult your pediatrician before using homemade remedies.